Vietnam Airlines plans to operate regular flights between Vietnam and the United States from October, seeking to fulfill a dream of nearly two decades.
The common carrier will use either a Boeing 787 or an Airbus SE A350 on its first U.S. route from Ho Chi Minh City to San Francisco with a single refueling stop, CEO Le Hong Ha said.
Since last year, the airline has been operating irregular charter flights to repatriate Vietnamese from the United States during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The airline will rely on freight transport to offset the initial low demand for passengers, Ha said.
Vietnam Airlines was the carrier most affected by Covid-19 in Vietnam. It recorded a loss of around 7 trillion dong ($ 306.65 million) in the first half of this year, Ha commented.
The airline in 2003 was ordered by the Department of Transportation to begin direct services to the United States by 2005. However, concerns about profitability prevented the airline from meeting the target.
Other Vietnamese airlines like low-cost Vietjet and startup Bamboo Airways have all expressed interest in flying directly to the United States.
Bamboo Airways acquired slots in May to operate scheduled direct flights from HCMC to San Francisco and Los Angeles from September 1. But it is not clear whether the flights would begin given the current severity of Covid-19 in Vietnam.
In the first seven months of this year, Vietnamese carriers served 13.7 million passengers, down 32% year-on-year, according to the General Bureau of Statistics.